Today I was browsing the video section of Reddit and wondered why someone posted the old song Black Hole Sun of Soundgarden. On this way I found out that Chris Cornell, who was singer of this band, died on Wednesday. There is no official statement about the cause of death but there are rumors that a possible suicide is investigated (confirmed, suicide by hanging). What ever happened, it is shocking. I think he was very talented and had an incredible voice. Not only this, he might also have inspired many people.
That’s where I come up with some personal memories. I said he might have inspired people, and I count myself to the inspired group. My grandpa tried to teach me to play the guitar when I was a child but I didn’t want to learn this at first. I think I was 8 years old and I didn’t even listen to music at that time, because I was most of the time outside to play with friends. To be honest, I did still grab the guitar at times and tried to make grandpa happy, but at that time you definitely wouldn’t have said that the product was music when I had the guitar in my hands. You would have called it noise, and I was a talent in destroying strings, but there was no sign that I would actually learn how to play this instrument.
Later in school we also had music class and I think it was two hours per week or so. My first music teacher was an old woman, my favorite English teacher, but at the same time also the worst music teacher you could imagine. By that time I did already listen a bit to music, but this woman wanted to teleport us back to earlier centuries and did of course fail to keep us attentive. One morning we expected her to come through the door of the class room, but she seemed to be late. But then another person came in, a guy with long black hair and he moved a TV and video recorder on a rolling shelf into the class room. He did a 20 second introduction and said he would be our new music teacher and then he did put a tape into the recorder and showed us a music video on the TV.
I think I was 11 and it was the fifth grade. At that time I had no idea what kind of music he showed us, I just knew from the beginning that it did sound so awesome and that the video was pretty weird. Just later I learned that it was Black Hole Sun of Soundgarden. From that time on I started to soak up music as if I never did something else. The song was in the Grunge or Psychedelic rock genre, but you can say that it basically just introduced me to rock music in general. I started to pay attention to a local radio broadcaster that would play all kind of rock or alternative songs, no matter if new or older. I discovered Kurt Cobain and Nirvana and other cool stuff and it was clear that I had to learn to play the guitar.
From that time on I searched my friends based on what kind of music they listened. It’s funny, but it’s probably what many young people do. It’s not that I was not interested in other people, but you definitely could get around better with people who had something in common with you, and in this case it was definitely also the music genre that played a role. I went back to grandpa and told him “Look, I need to play the guitar” and he was amazed but a bit shocked that it was not because of the older music he liked. My mother gifted me a beginner set, that was the electric guitar and an amp. Grandpa gifted me his old acoustic guitar. He said it would be better to start with the acoustic guitar, and playing the electric guitar would be much easier for the hands later on.
He taught me all the basics, and I got all the material I needed and that included books or the guitar strings that I still broke regularly when I started out. I was so interested in all this that it sometimes happened that I forgot homework. Also it became a bit more difficult for friends to get me out to play soccer on the lawn. I was really absorbing everything related to guitar music. After I understood the basics, grandpa didn’t really like the genre I was into, but he was later amazed when I also became interested in the oldies. At some point I didn’t even know anymore what I liked more. Was it the modern rock music or old stuff?
I don’t want to say that Chris Cornell and Soundgarden were the only reason why I started, but life is about those bits and pieces you know… it’s like a mosaic that slowly forms. His song Black Hole Sun definitely influenced me, it was one of many pieces that might have inspired me on a way that I finally took grandpa’s offer to learn about the guitar. I could also thank the teacher that got me interested in music, or grandpa who gave me a kickstart to learn it. Today it’s one of my favorite hobbies. When I feel bad, I grab the guitar and feel better. When I feel good, I grab the guitar and enjoy my time even more. It’s cool that I got interested in this. So, when I heard today that Chris Cornell died, it was like one mosaic stone of the great picture got broken. Rest in peace Chris you influenced people with your talent.
2 thoughts on “Black Hole Sun”
Thanks for the interesting post. I bought the song instantly on iTunes. Why do I have the feeling that in my subjective
opinion that the meanig of this song is timeless?
I always thought that was because the text is one of those ambiguous lyrics that could mean anything… The lyric always sounded dark, but now that it is confirmed that his death was suicide by hanging, it makes it even darker. It’s almost as he planned his death decades ago. Or as if he was depressed, anxious or tired of society…
“Times are gone for honest men
And sometimes far too long for snakes”
“In my shoes, a walking sleep
And my youth I pray to keep
Heaven sent hell away
No one sings like you anymore”
“Hang my head, drown my fear
Till you all just disappear”
Looks like he was fighting with something all the time and that it was reflected in his lyrics. Passages like “Black hole sun, won’t you come, wash away the rain” makes it almost sound as if he wished for a catastrophe.
In discussions I saw people mentioning that the whole text could also be an anti-capitalist statement. As said, like being tired of how things run in our world, and then again “Black hole sun, won’t you come, wash away the rain” could mean anything like waiting for a change, a wish that more honest people run the world, or that a catastrophe should just wipe us all out. No matter wha tthe interpretation is, it’s really dark and I can’t find any happy interpretation apart from maybe “Waiting for the summer, when rain stops and the sun comes through”… maybe even a mix of both, could also mean that the winter depression that many people feel in late-winter should just end and that summer should start.
There is room for interpretation, but his death almost gives his lyric a meaning